How is Populism and Health Associated in Europe? A multilevel analysis of the bi-directional interrelationship between populism and ill health

Funding body: European Commission  Marie Sklodowska Curie Action
Grant Holder: Gabor Scheiring and David Stuckler
Project Duration: 2021-2022

Project Description: The recent surge in populist and authoritarian politics marks a new phase of European politics posing fundamental challenges to scholars and the policy community. Populists often capitalise on liberal institutions' failure to deliver equal life chances for all; in this sense individuals' health acts as a canary in the coal mine for the health of democracies. At the same time populists tend to discriminate against precarious communities divert resources away from universal public services and question the role of expertise in governance. There is little systematic research on how Populism and Health are ASsociated in Europe (PHASE). Using a mixed-method multilevel comparative approach the project will analyse the dynamic bi-directional association between populism and health. First the project creates a longitudinal hierarchical cross-country panel dataset nesting individuals in EU regions and measure the impact of ill health on support for populist parties after 2000. Second adopting a coding scheme for populists in government in Europe the project assesses the variegated impact of populism on peoples' health using dynamic multilevel modelling. Finally the project analyses a selected key policy episode to unpack the structures of populist health governance. The project is the first multilevel assessment of the bi-directional interrelationship between populism and ill health in Europe offering theoretically innovative and methodologically rigorous cutting-edge contributions to multiple disciplines including sociology political science and public health. In addition to its scholarly focus the PHASE project actively contributes to the public debate on populism by bringing in new aspects and addressing the European policy community through a set of outreach activities. Through personalised training collaborative research and a secondment to a think tank the project will also significantly expand the scientific and transferable skills.